You’re heading out and today you’ve decided to brown-bag it? Why not pack an old tried and true favourite, the peanut butter sandwich? Smooth or crunchy, peanut butter goes down easy.
Peanut butter was originally made by the Incas in South America. Then in the 1840s, according to Andrew
F. Smith’s book, Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea, Rose Davis started grinding up peanuts to make a peanut paste for sandwiches after her son reported seeing this food during an overseas trip.
Later the peanut butter business took off. In 1890, ground peanut paste made from steamed peanuts was promoted as a vegetarian protein supplement for people who had lost their teeth. As time when by, the production process developed and began using roasted peanuts which
made the peanut butter tastier.
Although processing techniques have changed over the years, the product is still tasty and good for your health because of its key ingredient – peanuts. This is especially true because of the strict food ingredient guidelines in North America. The “peanut butter” available here must be made up of at least 90% peanuts. Otherwise, it is labeled “peanut spread.”
Eating peanut butter regularly can improve your health because of the excellent nutrition it contains. Just one serving (two tablespoons) of crunchy peanut butter, packs in a broad range of your daily nutritional requirements (based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet).
Here is a summary of them: Protein: 13% (8g) which helps repair and develop body tissues, maintain body fluid levels, and make antibodies to fight infection and disease;
Fiber: 8% (2g) which reduces your risk of some cancers, helps control blood sugar levels and helps lower your cholesterol;
Unsaturated Fat: 29% (13g) and Saturated Fat:13% (3g) which maintains healthy skin and carries the fatsolubl vitamins (A, D & E);
Vitamin E: 22% (2mg) which works with Vitamin A to protect your skin, and builds your immune system;
Niacin: 24% (4mg) which helps release the energy from your food and maintains your skin, nervous system and digestive tract;
Folate: 7.5% (30mg) which helps develop healthy new cells, especially during growth and pregnancy. (Other good sources of folate are orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, and enriched grain products);
Vitamin B6: 8% (0.15mg) which makes and breaks down proteins and makes red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body;
Riboflavin (B2): 2% (0.04mg) which helps you get the energy from the food you eat and helps maintain healthy skin and eyes;
Magnesium: 15% (52mg) which helps build bones and teeth, helps transmit nerve impulses, helps maintain body temperature and creates protein;
Phosphorus: 13% (104mg) which is needed to grow and maintain your bones and teeth and is a part of all your soft tissues;
Copper: 9% (0.17mg) which helps your body form hemoglobin, healthy bones, blood vessels and nerves;
Potassium: 7% (244mg) which helps maintain your body’s water balance, helps release the energy from foods, helps nerves smoothly transmit impulses, and helps create proteins;
Iron: 6% (0.62mg) which helps carry oxygen to your cells;
Zinc: 6% (0.91mg) which helps form protein and blood, helps your body heal wounds, helps you appreciate the taste of foods and improves your night vision;
Calcium: 2% (13mg) which keeps your bones and teeth strong.
Additionally, peanut butter has a significant amount of P-coumaric acid (an antioxidant) and also contains a recently-discovered ingredient called resveratrol. Resveratrol is a phytoalexin (antibacterial and anti-fungal chemical) that the peanut produces to protect itself against bacteria and fungi and is found in high concentrations in peanut skins. Early studies have shown this ingredient may be helpful for fighting cancer and viruses.
Because peanut butter is a low glycemic index food, it can reduce your risk of developing non-insulindependent diabetes, especially when you combine it with a lot of cereal fiber. (Peanut butter spread on a whole-grain bread or whole wheat crackers is ideal). The sugar in low glycemic index foods, such as peanut butter, is digested more slowly which leads to a gradual increase in blood sugar. That’s why low glycemic index foods are recommended to help control both non-insulin-dependent and insulin-dependent diabetes.
Another health bonus is that peanut butter has no cholesterol, since cholesterol is found only in animal products.
On the other hand, peanut butter does have a darker side. Peanut allergies are a serious concern. Since severely allergic people can suffer a lethal reaction to even remote contact with peanut products, if you share your rig with others, exercise extreme caution. However, if a peanut allergy is not a risk, open the jar and dig right in. Peanut butter is still good for you; spread the word.
– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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